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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: January 14, 1938
Name: Walter L. Moncrief
Post Office: Cache, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: December 23, 1879
Place of Birth: Ninnekah
Father:  Sam Moncrief
Place of Birth: Skyllyville (sic), Oklahoma
Information on father: born January 28, 1849
Place of birth:
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Bessie L. Thomas

I was born at Ninnekah, December 23, 1879, and was raised in Garvin County, where I went to school.  I received most of my education by reading as school terms in those days were short, and inherited from my father a gift of memory which has been a great help to me during my life.

My grand-parents, Wm. and Margaret Moncrief, moved from Alabama, where both were born and raised, to Scullyville.  The trip was made by wagon and steamboat on the Arkansas River.  They moved their household goods, farming tools, which were few and crude, also livestock.

My grand-parents were considered well-to-do in those days, as they were able to pay their way on the steamship.  Some friends who moved at the same time made the long tiresome trek by wagons, alone.  Even with the help of a steamboat, it took months for the trip.  My grand-parents lived at Scullyville until 1849.  Then moved to what is now Fort Arbuckle.  They built their first house, a log one, on the west side of Washita River.

They lived there until the Civil War, then moved to where Tishomingo now stands.  At the close of the Civil War they moved back to Fort Arbuckle and lived there until 1869.  My grandpa was one-eighth Choctaw, my grandma was one-fourth Choctaw.  I suppose the Indian blood in them gave them their roving disposition.  The first land in Oklahoma to be given Indians who lived east of the Mississippi River was ceded by treaty, October 18, 1820, to the Choctaws.  The next move my grand-parents made was to the mouth of the Little Washita River.

Grandpa died at Fort Sill in 1872, and was buried at Moncrief Cemetery, where, for years no other person was buried except a member of the Moncrief family.  This burial ground was about six miles southeast of what is now Chickasha.

The plains Indians would raid my grandpa’s farm and steal horses, cattle and grain about once or twice a year.  Grandpa killed three Indians on one of these raids.  He was given a contract from the Government to furnish beef to soldiers at Fort Cobb and Fort Arbuckle.  He had a large herd of cattle.

One time Grandfather was sent on a scouting expedition with Captain MARCY to Salt Lake but at Santa Fe, New Mexico, he became too ill to go on and lay for weeks with fever.

At another time he was taken with soldiers to a Wichita Indian village, east of Rush Springs, on Rush Creek because he knew so many of the Indians at the village and could talk the language.  An Indian from the village had killed a soldier at Fort Arbuckle and an uprising was feared because friends of the soldier were on the way to the village to kill the Indians.  Excitement was running high, and soldiers were sent to keep down trouble but reached the village in time to see the head of the Indian, who had killed the soldier, brought in to white friends.  Further trouble was avoided by the presence for several weeks of the soldiers at the village.

My father, Sam Moncrief, was born at Skyllyville, January 28, 1849.  Here his boyhood was spent.  He did not receive much education but was a great reader.   After his marriage, he began to follow in the footsteps of his father, farming and raising cattle and horses.  Life was hard in those days; some seasons they had plenty to eat and other times food was scarce.  Father moved to Ninnekah and lived there until 1881, then moved near what is now Maysville, in 1903, on a creek near Maysville, then called Beef Creek.  He lived there until 1918, then moved to Sulpher where he died August 24, 1933.

When he was farming and raising cattle, he would take herds of cattle up the Chisholm Trail to Caldwell and Dodge City, Kansas, on trading expeditions.

He would trade what cattle he could not sell for groceries, buffalo hides or any other articles that they could use.  One time he brought home a cook-stove, the first one in that part of the country, and people came from miles around to see it.  Father would take cattle to Fort Arbuckle, too, and barter for buffalo hides from Indians.  He helped drive the first herd of cattle that ever crossed Washita River.

The old Chisholm Trail ran east of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation and the Cherokee outlet to Dodge City.  As pasture became scarce in Texas, Chisholm started to Western Indian Territory with great herds of cattle to find new grazing lands; and then on to Wichita and Dodge City, Kansas, where the cattle were sold.  Thus, he established a new trail, which bears his name today.  At one time when he had stopped to graze for several days, the cattle stampeded and my father with the help of neighbors rounded them up and got the bunch back together.  The old trail runs from Red River in Texas to Wichita, Kansas.

A Delaware Indian scout named RED BLANKET helped Chisholm with the first bunch of cattle taken through Indian Territory.  A chuck-wagon and supplies were always taken along as towns were few and far between.  Herds consisted of from two thousand to twenty-five hundred cattle.  From twenty to thirty cowboys would be taken along as helpers.  Red Blanket and my father became fast friends.  The Chisholm Trail in later years was divided to seek more and newer grazing lands, the first fork being near Waurika.  Today the old trail in places has washed, sometimes fifteen or twenty feet deep and formed creeks.

Transcribed and submitted by Sandi Carter <SandKatC@aol.com> 10-1999.